LATEST PENGUINS BUZZ
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford talked trades in a significant matter with “five or six teams,” the Penguins GM admitted Friday night but the Penguins GM stood pat making no trades and Pittsburgh unable to get back into the first round.
Rutherford, though, talked like a man who will sleep on a few things as the Penguins still have some scenarios out there that they could move on this weekend or in the coming weeks as none of their top targets in trades moved tonight, Phil Kessel, Patrick Sharp, T.J. Oshie and Jeff Skinner among them who were not traded.
“Talked about a lot of things, trying to be patient at this point in time,” Rutherford told reporters.
The sense around the Penguins in the last couple hours is that deals are there to be made, it’s just a matter of whether the Penguins have the stomach to act on them right now.
“You set out to do some things. Until you get them done, you’re not totally comfortable,” Rutherford said, though, optimistic something will come about at some point.
“There’s going to be enough players available. “I think it’s going to be important that we take our time until we get the player that we think fits for us,” Rutherford said.
Among the significant discussions leading into the draft involved the Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs regarding Phil Kessel, a pursuit the Penguins started looking at more aggressively in the last 48 hours.
The two sides were involved in back and forth talks until about 4:00 p.m. Friday afternoon, a source says, where both sides realized something wasn’t going to get done tonight.
The Maple Leafs strongly covet defensemen Olli Maatta, Scott Harrington in talks but the big rumor around the league among NHL executives is the Leafs believed willingness to pick up some of Kessel’s salary, potentially as much as $2 million per season and maybe more, were the two teams agree to a trade with Maatta involved. That has the Penguins top decision makers not closing the door on the scenario, multiple sources said tonight.
Any deal for Kessel would involve multiple players, picks.
Of all the teams Toronto is talking to about Kessel right now, Maatta is the primary player they covet and in a big way as he’s a player Toronto’s Mark Hunter knows very well and someone Mike Babcock see’s as a franchise defenseman for the next 10-12 years, NHL sources outside the Penguins organization say.
Rutherford told reporters tonight that teams, as expected, have interest in the Penguins young defensemen and teams like different ones, and Rutherford didn’t flat out say no when asked that he wouldn’t trade one of their young top defenseman, answering “hard to say”.
Getting Phil Kessel at around $6 million or less per season has him thinking, those close to the situation say, even for moving a player of Maatta’s stature, who had been considered off limits.
As for Derrick Pouliot, his name is coming up in league circles as being coveted by the Blues, Hurricanes and even Blackhawks in the Penguins respective talks with those three teams.
The chatter inside the Penguins organization is that if there’s a big deal to go down Saturday, it would likely be with the Carolina Hurricanes for Jeff Skinner as both sides have a framework in place, it’s just up to whether both sides want to go through with it.
A potential significant deal discussed with the Blues didn’t gain much traction throughout the day but the door also hasn’t been closed for those talks to resurface at some point.
Lots of things remain in play for Rutherford, many of them bold/gutsy, as the Penguins head into Day 2 of the NHL draft.
Pittsburgh selects at No. 46.